Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Protesters to Preval: Get out

Anger over government policy and squalid conditions in survivor camps have been cited as two of the reasons behind a demonstration against Haitian President Rene Preval on Monday.

Approximately 2000 people rallied outside of the national palace in Port-Au-Prince in an event described by the AP as “the largest political protest since the Jan. 12 earthquake.” The rally was initially reported as “party-like” yet police would eventually fired tear gas as some tried to break the security perimeter. A few demonstrators were armed and robbed passerby during the protest, which at times became chaotic.

The demonstration was organized by a coalition of forty opposition groups who have accused Preval of trying to abuse power under the guise of post-earthquake political stability. On the same day as the protest the Haitian Senate approved a proposal possibly extending Preval’s time in the presidency. This did not sit well with some of Monday’s protesters:
Elections were supposed to be held in February but will now be delayed. Some fear they could eventually be cancelled. "He is profiting from this disaster in order to stay in power," said Herve Santilus, a demonstrator interviewed by the Associated Press.

He, like hundreds of thousands of other restless citizens, has been unemployed and relying on aid handouts since the disaster struck.

Another protester, Claudy Louis, told reporters: "Preval has used the drama that our country went through and turned it into an opportunity for himself. Instead of looking out for the people, he quickly hatched a plan to benefit the small group of people around him."
The anger against Preval was so much that some at the protest urged a return from exile of former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Image- RFI (“Police walk between residents taking part in a protest in Port-au-Prince on 11 May 2010.”)
Online Sources- Independent.co.uk, NPR, BBC News, Xinhua, Reuters

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